Sometimes facilitating the Canadian Hockey Mom Community provides me with some extra-amazing opportunities. This was the case when I talked last week with Kelly McDavid (yes, NHL superstar Connor McDavid’s mom) about important work she is doing with Febreze to eliminate odours and barriers to playing hockey. As they say, “You bring the skates; we’ll take care of the stink”.
For the third time, Kelly has partnered with Febreze and Skate To Great to help get more Canadian kids on the ice. From now until December 3rd, Febreze is collecting gently used hockey skates at select arenas nationwide. Your donation will be sanitized, freshened with Febreze and shared with kids who want to get on the ice!! To find a collection location nearest you, click here.
For many Canadians, the cost of equipment is unaffordable, making participation in certain sports and extracurricular activities difficult. Febreze is committed to not only eliminating that tough hockey stink but also the barriers to participating in Canada’s much-loved sport. #FebrezeHockeyHeroes
I also had a chance to ask Kelly some of your questions about her family’s minor hockey days. I’ve included excerpts from our conversation below. Have a read, you might be surprised by some of her answers!
What were some of your earliest memories of your boys playing hockey?
I met my husband Brian through hockey, my sister was dating someone on the same Junior B team. My family was a skiing family, so I always thought my family would ski, but life turned out differently.
Connor started playing house league at 4 and Cameron at 5. Cameron’s best memories were meeting other players and the relationships that they made, and the relationships that we made with other parents who were the greatest part of hockey. As we all look back at the best part it was certainly the relationships and feeling that you were a family.
What was your typical role in the Hockey Mom madness?
I was more the caregiver I was always worried about their health, eating and sleeping. I was always worried that it was too much. Connor put a lot of pressure on himself and accountability. He would say “I’m tired today I don’t want to shoot my pucks, I’m tired” and I would say “that’s ok listen to your body, you don’t’ have to if you are tired.” Then he would look at me and say, “No, I need to do it because if I don’t I will be mad at myself later.” So he always did it.
That’s a great point, the importance of accountability, especially now with games like Fortnite taking up kids’ attention.
Yes, I didn’t even know what that was until recently, the kids explained it to me. It’s so sad, kids should be doing other things and outside. We were lucky to not have Fortnite.
Let’s talk about the work you are doing with Febreze and Skate to Great.
Febreze has always been a part of my family, I’ve used Febreze Fabric Freshener since the kids were little. I learned quickly that you couldn’t go to a tournament without it. So, I was very excited when they approached me, it was just a natural fit. What we are doing is asking people to donate their gently used skates, and find the Febreze Facebook page, to find the drop-off location closest to you so that kids who don’t’ have skates can get out on the ice.
Do you see hockey as something that is important in a child’s development?
Hockey or any organized sport is important. It builds self- confidence, high management skills, teamwork, time management. Hockey or other sports teaches them so many life lessons that they can carry on into adulthood. There are so many barriers, one is that there is a huge time commitment and huge life commitment. The Febreze and Skate to Great program is trying to keep players on the ice. I know with my boys went through skates so quickly, sometimes my boys wore through two pairs in a season. So let’s get these extra skates to other players and maybe we can find the next great NHL player out there.
How did you handle or help your kids handle homework or school and hockey?
Our kids were very clear if they wanted to play hockey they had to do their homework. I definitely helped with time management, the nagging mother, but Connor was a little bit more scheduled. He was focused to make sure he got his homework done early so that he didn’t’ have to worry about it. Cameron was more last minute so he might have to stay up late but it always got done.
I remember the first time that Cameron made it to a rep team, and I didn’t’ know much about hockey. We were all very excited about the tournament and Brian was out of town so I took him to practice and they handed out the schedule. I noticed that he played on Friday, and I thought to myself “there is no PA day on Friday, why is there a game on Friday?” I went up to the coach and said: “I’m not sure if you know that it’s not a PA day Friday, but there are two games scheduled.” He looked at me like I had two heads, he couldn’t believe that I didn’t know that this was a thing. That was my first introduction to the tournaments and knowing your kids need to miss one day of school. I must have looked like the crazy mom in the dressing room going up and complaining about playing on a Friday.
How did you handle negative comments about your son’s skill?
It was tough. He got called a puck hog, my husband coached and would be accused of playing Connor more but my husband was so aware of how much ice-time he had and would be as equal as he possibly could. When my husband coached Connor was never the captain of any of those teams. Brian would refuse to make him captain because it would have confirmed that my husband was there only for Connor. He was an assistant captain for a couple of years but he never got to be captain. Then there were times when parents would yell, one mother came down to the glass and started giving Connor the finger, I want to say he was 11 and it was a mother whose son was cut by my husband and she thought Connor was trying to fight with her kid, which was totally not the case at all. He was very upset by that and got into the car and asked why she would do this, and I had to explain that some parents are very jealous, but we need to walk away.
Connor comes across as a humble person. Is that something you had to work on or is he that way?
He is that way. We obviously talked about things that would take place in the dressing room or on the ice, but we said that’s part of hockey and you have to let that go. He is who he is, and I often say he’s an old soul in a young body. He’s mature beyond his years and he just gets it and got it at a very young age. He got that “I’m good at this”. He put a lot of pressure on himself, but he never tried to make anyone feel bad if they weren’t or never bragged or boasted. He just loves hockey, he loves the team aspect of it and it’s carried on, to this day he doesn’t like cocky.
How did you handle politics in hockey?
Things hurt sometimes because you feel like people are your family. And when we went from York Simcoe Express to the GTHL, it wasn’t well received. I take it they were hurt and didn’t want us to leave, which was nice, but you are doing what you do for your son. Especially when your husband coaches there is always lots of talk, but you have to try not to get involved in it and take it with a grain of salt.
When you have two children playing how do you manage time and attention with siblings?
Brian was with Connor most of the time because he coached him and Cameron played to Junior A, and I went with Cameron. You just made it work. When we were all at home we tried to spend time together, and spend time with my extended family at their place and all be together there. Those times were special, and we tried to do the best we could, it’s all you can do.
For both your sons what is the greatest adversity and how did you help them get through it?
For Connor, the greatest adversity was the fact that he was so good, and he had to tone it down a bit because he didn’t want to be the one in the limelight. Even still he doesn’t like to be the star of attention. Even though he is who he is he doesn’t feel the attention should be on him it should be on his teammates.
For Cameron, his adversity was making it to AAA, he wanted to, and finally did, and that was constantly encouraging him and making sure that he didn’t’ get down on himself and he eventually made it.
How did I help them? I just supported them. I gave them support and I talked to them. I talk to moms today and I say we were lucky our kids didn’t have cell phones. On our drives to the game, we were talking to each other. Nowadays, kids are on their cell phones all the time, they don’t’ talk as much. That’s all we did was talk.
With toning it down – did you ever worry he wouldn’t go for it? Because to go for it you have to really put yourself out there.
I never thought he wouldn’t go for it, he was very focused and determined and that’s what he was going to do no matter what. For me, I worried that it was too much for him, and I would often talk to him about that and make sure it was ok. When he was quiet I would worry, he’s a very introspective person and he would get quiet and I would be the one to try to make sure that he was ok and make sure he was supported no matter what.
When you look over your hockey mom experience, what was the most important advice you ever received?.
It was actually my husband who got the advice, and he was told don’t ever let anybody come between you and your son. So meaning… there are a lot of people out there, your kids are good and they want to be a part of it, and want to represent your kids or take them on free tournaments where you wouldn’t have to pay, which we never ever did. It just means stay close to your kids. And enjoy it, because it goes so darn fast. Just enjoy it, and stay positive.
What would you like to tell every mom out there?
Enjoy it, stay positive, support your kids, there are ups and downs. There are sacrifices, I know there are sacrifices I sacrificed a lot to have my sons play at a high level but it was worth it. Stay positive.
And finally, a question directly from our moms on Facebook, does that nervous mom question ever go away or does it get easier?
No, I’m always nervous. We don’t go to a lot of games because it’s so far, but I’m watching on TV, and I’m on the edge of my seat and yelling at the TV, and I’m not yelling at other players I’m just yelling to be careful. I worry about injuries more now since he broke his collarbone and I see him racing towards the boards, and that’s when I yell careful. It doesn’t get easier.
I would like to thank Kelly McDavid for taking the time to talk to me and answering some of our CHM questions, and Febreze and Skate to Great for offering such a great program to help all Canadians play hockey.
Want to enter the Giveaway for a Febreze Product?
If you would like to enter to receive one of five Febreze products, go to our Canadian Hockey Moms Facebook Page and tell me your favourite Kelly McDavid answer in the comments.
Be sure to check out the Febreze Hockey Heroes website and find the skate drop-off location closest to you and keep kids in hockey!
February 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of our Hockey Mom community and website (my fourteenth year as a Hockey Mom, but it took me a few years to get going on our community).
Our website, www.canadianhockeymoms.ca is in its third reincarnation. It started as Hockey Mom in Canada, and once the website was large enough and had enough followers, I was contacted by CBC lawyers letting me know I was infringing on their copyright, so change it, or else.
So, we became Canadian Hockey Moms. Fitting really, because I am only one Hockey Mom in Canada, but we are all Canadian (or American, or European) Hockey Moms.
I’ve been asked dozens of times over the years why I started this website, but I’ve never told the full truth. I’ve said some things that weren’t lies; that my children were getting involved in hockey, there were no resources at the time, and that I was interested in using my education and background in community psychology to see if I could build a community of hockey moms online. These reasons are certainly true, but the website itself wasn’t even a thought until a fateful Novice game at our first Silverstick tournament in Wasaga Beach.
The truth is, I started this website when my 7-year-old son had only one shift in an entire game and I didn’t know how to deal with it.
For the record, for a long time, I told no one that was why I started it.
I actually started the website anonymously, as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or those around me, and I have never talked about that on this website until today. My intention then and now was not to humiliate or blame or rage, my intention was and genuinely has been to try to figure out how to stay sane and rational in an often-irrational hockey world.
I am a rational person who was struggling to make sense of a very strange world. I needed help from others, Hockey Moms who had been through things, to do it.
Those of you who have witnessed the dreaded shortening of the bench for your children may have had a visceral reaction to my statement about one shift by my 7-year-old, meaning you probably FEEL something because you remember what it felt like when it happened to your child. It might be the tightening in your throat, increase in blood pressure, anger, sadness, resignation.
It does not feel good when you know that your child has been chosen as part of a team but is hearing loud and clear,
“You aren’t good enough.”
To be clear, I am well aware that my son wasn’t the first child to go through this, and others have probably experienced even worse. But this was my experience.
My oldest son was a “first-year” novice, he had turned 7 in October and was playing with a very talented team of mostly 8-year-olds. Though I had been around hockey and rinks growing up, it was my first year with a child in competitive hockey (although it was a DD centre, small-town hockey at its core, you can’t get much smaller and still be considered competitive hockey).
My son was learning the defence, younger, and lacked confidence, and was arguably one of the weaker kids on the team at 7 years old. His ice-time reflected that in the first month, and even after being benched for the entire third period in a tournament final two weeks prior, his father and I said nothing, recognizing (we thought) that “this is what happened when you played rep hockey”.
I will say, by the way, that at the time there were not a lot of alternate views on the topic.
We went with it, choosing to use the opportunity to talk to our son about hard work, different roles on the team, and just keep doing your best. That was until we went to a Silverstick tournament and in game 1, watched our son play one 20 second shift in the entire game. His first shift was about 4 minutes into the first period, he got scored on (I recall the turning over of a puck and my son being caught in a 2 on 1), and the rest was history.
The challenge with this is that my son didn’t realize he was never getting back on the ice. So, he would move down the line to the door, get close and have the defence coach push him (gently) by the helmet back to the centre of the bench.
I remember everything about that day. My new white coat, my favourite boots and jeans, my brown sweater, the snow outside, the smell of the potluck in the hotel hallways, and the sight of my son curled up in a ball on the bed not really understanding why he didn’t play, because, well, he was 7.
Again, his father and I said nothing, until the coaches called us in for a talk the following Saturday because they “knew we were upset”.
At that age, at that level, I think most of us would agree that what happened was wrong. But it was the first time I experienced not knowing how to handle a problem with a coach, worrying about speaking up in case it impacted my son’s future ice time. I was also seriously worried about ruining friendships (all the coaches were friends of ours) and I didn’t want to be “that” parent.
I worried that other parents would think we thought our son was more skilled than he was (I didn’t want to be that parent all) and worrying that they agreed with the coach’s decision. Like many of you, I was concerned we would lose friends (as a side note… this is a very rational concern in hockey, as many of you know).
Mostly I just worried about my son. My biggest fear was that he would become frustrated and abandon hockey, a game that he loved.
At the same time, there was something else completely different taking place on our team.
Juxtaposed with my son’s and our family’s experience, I watched opponent fans scream at our top player who dominated the play. Opposing parents screamed intense, angry things, like PUCK HOG, GET HIM, or TAKE HIM OUT!
The player they were yelling at was eight years old.
That seemed as absurd to me as what happened to my child.
This player was out every other shift and more. I didn’t begrudge him that, but I was disturbed by the behaviour of opposing parents, and had this thought, “I wonder how Trina Crosby dealt with these types of parents”.
And therein lies the greatest contraction in hockey.
One 8-year-old player was yelled at by adults for being too good. I really felt for him, and his parents, and especially his mom listening to the fans yell terrible things at her kid. Meanwhile, my 7-year-old son was benched for an entire game on the same team, and I hurt for him, too.
And there was no help to deal with any of it.
Almost 10 years later, I’m still not convinced we handled the one-shift incident correctly. When the coaches asked to talk to us, we initially said no.
They did not like what we had to say.
I remember two key things from that meeting. One was that one of our key points was the importance of developing all players and fostering a love for hockey, especially at such a young age. We had lost in OT in that tournament, and when the players left the ice, they went to the dressing room and were all in tears, there was no celebration of making it there, it was doom and gloom. They came out of the dressing room feeling even worse when they heard they had not played well.
The second was leaving the meeting with the coaches when we were asked by the coach “remember how you said it was a big accomplishment to get second in the tournament and the kids should have been proud?”
Yes, we remembered.
Then he said it, “Well maybe if your son had played more we wouldn’t’ have done as well.”
That one line has stuck with me over the years. Not only because it was insensitive (and not necessarily true), but because underlying that comment is a larger issue faced all the time in hockey, about team vs. individual success, and when does it become ok to sacrifice players’ self-worth for the “good” of the team.
Surely not Novice DD hockey. But when does it become ok? Atom? Peewee? Competitive? A? AA? AAA?
That was just one of the questions I wanted to ask people who knew more than me.
A researcher through training, I like questions, and I felt that a good way to learn more about how to handle all these situations was to ask Hockey Moms who had been there. And that’s where all of you come in. And that’s why the website was formed.
10 years later, I’ve come a long way,
My three children have now played on a combined 32 teams (from house league to AAA and girls’ hockey) across 6 associations. I’ve managed 17 of the teams, I’ve been on the bench as a trainer, and I’ve been on our minor hockey executive for 6 years, the past three as president.
And, our Canadian Hockey Mom Community has over 40,000 hockey moms across our social media platforms.
I’m now a veteran hockey mom, with three kids still in hockey, and I’m still trying to figure some things out. Having been around for a while, I feel that I’m in a position to give my opinion (but not advice) in a way that I wasn’t 10 years ago, in a way that I sought the opinions of moms who came before me.
So, buckle up! We have a lot in store for you, as we enter this new decade. We have a new website on the way, giveaways, guest blogs, and I’ll even be throwing my opinion out there occasionally, because trust me, I am confident that I know stuff now.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of this community for 10 years, and contributed your thoughts, opinions and made me laugh. I’d also like to thank all the moms who have become part of my hockey family. I learn from you and celebrate your children’s joy in hockey with you.
Note: I’m happy to say that my son navigated that issue and every other issue that life and hockey have thrown at him. Today, 10 years later, he’s the assistant captain in his final year of midget headed into the OMHA semi-finals this weekend. I could not be prouder of the young man he has become. XOX
I’ve listed below a few recommended hockey books for younger children. Perhaps you have some suggestions for other hockey books that your own kids enjoyed (if so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
It took me a while to embrace the “Hockey Mom” label due to the bad rap Hockey Moms can get. You know what I’m talking about. Between the “lipstick/pitbull” jokes and all the stereotypes that are out there of Hockey Moms yelling at the refs and pushing our kids around, we are sometimes thought of as over-zealous and far too intense. But I knew better. Hockey Moms are smart, resilient, creative, tireless, compassionate and strong ladies. You have to be all of these things to keep up with a hockey schedule!
I have three hockey-playing children (two boys and a girl) and I started Canadian Hockey Moms in February of 2010 during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I was in the middle of becoming immersed in my own children’s’ minor hockey career, and yes, encountering some “politics” along the way. Recognizing there was nothing out there to support hockey moms (and families) through probably the busiest time in their lives, I decided to use my community development skills to start talking to moms, taking questions, and sharing ideas. My goal was to reach moms in every province and territory in Canada, and we did it within our first two months. Though most of us are Canadian, we are also followed by moms internationally. By the way, I love our international friends, even during the Olympics! 😉
The Hockey Moms we engage with make me smile every day. There are some witty ladies out there! I love being able to connect moms with ideas and suggestions to each other, or share information that might make someone’s life easier. I also have a Master’s degree in Community Psychology, which definitely contributes to my passion for building engaged and engaging communities. In my spare time, I run a consulting company that focuses on research and evaluation, mainly in community and educational settings. You can check out that side of me at www.synergyrec.info .
I’m always interested in working with new people, brands or organizations that can help hockey parents or players, hearing your questions, and sharing good information. You are always welcome to contact me at email@example.com